A crowdfunding campaign to help restore one of the Auckland region’s largest and most significant rivers was launched on the Million Metres web platform today. The Wairoa River restoration project demonstrates how business, council and local communities are joining forces to make a positive difference to New Zealand’s waterways.

The Wairoa River winds from the Hunua Ranges, through Clevedon, and out into the Hauraki Gulf. The Wairoa River has been severely impacted over many decades by land clearance and urban development. Loss of native forest has resulted in less habitat for wildlife, the erosion of the river’s banks and to large amounts of sediment and other pollutants entering the water. In addition, damming of the river has significantly changed its natural flow.

Lewis Road Creamery, a dairy company whose core products rely on sourcing organic milk, has stepped in to support local community efforts to make a positive difference to the river.

Georgina Hart, who leads Million Metres at the Sustainable Business Network said that the Wairoa River project is a good example of how everyone has a part to play in restoring New Zealand’s waterways.

“Businesses like Lewis Road Creamery that get behind waterway restoration initiatives are an incredible help to local projects. We can’t leave it to someone else to clean up our rivers. It’s up to all of us - everyone can contribute in some way, from donating, to getting involved in volunteer planting days," said Hart.

The significance of the river to Auckland’s wider environment can not be underestimated, with sediment and other pollutants flowing from the river out into the harbour and having a major impact on the health of the Hauraki Gulf.

Hart is delighted to see more businesses financially supporting projects via the Million Metres platform.

“Our role is to connect individual and business donors who want to play their part in looking after our environment with local communities who are doing the work on the ground. This project is an excellent example of multiple stakeholders, led by local environmental group Friends of Te Wairoa Catchment and supported by Lewis Road Creamery.

“We want to play our part in giving back to the area that gives us so much. So we have pledged to match-fund the first $10,000 in donations and are encouraging our 200,000-strong community of Roadies (followers) to get involved too by helping the project reach its crowdfunding goal and then joining us on planting day to dig and plant the trees," said Peter Cullinane, Founder of Lewis Road Creamery.

The plants and trees will come from social enterprise Te Whangai Trust, which assists the long-term unemployed and prisoners to gain new work skills through their four nurseries in Auckland.

Anyone can join in, and any donation, big or small helps to purchase trees. Aotearoa’s waterways need our help - we want everyone to pitch in to help protect and restore our rivers for future generations," said Hart.